Scale inhibitor (SI) analysis is an extremely important part of scale management and, in recent years, much work has been done on the development of specialist scale inhibitor analysis techniques like Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy (LCMS) to push the boundaries of low level scale inhibitor detection. However, LCMS requires costly and complex instrumentation and there was therefore still a need for the development of other advanced techniques like fluorescence (F) and Time resolved Fluorescence (TRF) that can be used on site to provide near "on line" data.
Fluorescence techniques are particularly suited to tagged polymers and naturally fluorescent molecules like polyamines whereas the operation principle of TRF is based on interactions between lanthanide ions and various functional groups of polymer or phosphonate scale inhibitors.
Both techniques work individually or in combination and this provides a distinct advantage for multiple scale inhibitor analysis in produced brines that enable the design of packages of different products for specific field applications. In addition, TRF and fluorescence techniques offer the capability of on-site detection compared to the majority of scale inhibitor analysis techniques and other advanced methods like LC-MS.
The ability to detect both phosphonate and polymeric scale inhibitors at very low MIC (<1ppm) has the potential for significantly extending scale squeeze lifetimes. This has now also allowed highly efficient, F tagged polymers, to be used in field situations where scale squeezing was either stopped or the lifetime was significantly compromised because of the lack of confidence in the residuals analysis.
Specific field and theoretical examples from both sub-sea and conventional wells will be presented where the application of both advanced fluorescence and TRF techniques has shown significant improvements in scale management.
This paper will compare and contrast the pros, cons and limitations of both fluorescence and TRF techniques for both phosphonate and polymeric scale inhibitors. In addition, it will highlight examples where scale management significantly improves through the application of Fluorescence and/or TRF scale inhibitor analysis techniques in complex production scenarios.